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Oscar Pelham Edgar was a teacher and an academic. He was born in Toronto, Ontario, the son of James David Edgar and Matilda Ridout. He married Helen Madeline Boulton in 1893. She died in 1933. He married to Dona Gertrude Cameron Waller in 1935. They had one daughter, Katharine Jane. He died in Canton, Ontario.
Edgar was educated at Upper Canada College. He received his B.A. from the University of Toronto in 1892 and a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland in 1897. He began his teaching career as modern-language master at Upper Canada College (1892-1895). He was appointed to the staff of the Department of French at Victoria College, Toronto, as Lecturer in 1897, then as Head from 1901 to 1910. He also began to lecture in the Department of English in 1902, later transferring permanently to the latter, where he held full professional rank until 1938 and served as Head for twenty-eight years.
Edgar was a member of the Athenaeum Club, London, England; of the Canadian Society of Authors where he served as Secretary; of the Tennyson Club, Toronto, where he served as President; of the Modern Language Association, Ontario, where he served as President; of the Ontario Education Society, where he served as Secretary from 1908 to 1909; and of the Canadian Writers’ Foundation which was founded by Edgar. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1915 and received its Lorne Pierce Medal for distinguished service to Canadian literature in 1936.
Edgar published many reviews and articles, along with three monographs: A Study of Shelley with Special Reference to his Nature Poetry (1899), Henry James, Man and Author (1927), The Art of the Novel from 1700 to the Present Time (1933). He also contributed a chapter on Canada to The Cambridge History of English Literature (1916), and acted as Canadian advisor for the Dictionary of National Biography (1911). Some autobiographical material was published posthumously under the title Across my Path (1952), edited by Northrop Frye, including a complete bibliography of Edgar's publications, compiled by Margaret Ray.